Spada Law - September 2019

Does Your College Student Need a Health Care Proxy?

3 D ocuments to H elp P arents H andle a M edical E mergency

Most college freshmen are either over the age of 18 or will be soon, and all parents of these students should be aware of the legal changes that come with this milestone. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects the privacy of medical records. This means if your adult child becomes ill or injured while at college, you may find yourself unable to obtain any information about their condition. There is nothing more terrifying to a parent than to be in the dark about their own child. Here are forms you and your college student must fill out so you will be able to help them in a medical emergency. 1. HIPAA Authorization A signed HIPAA form allows health care providers to disclose a patient’s health information to designated individuals. These forms do not need to be notarized, and they also include a section where a patient can specify what kind of information they don’t want to be disclosed, such as information regarding mental health, sexual health, or drug use. Find a HIPAA form from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at Mass.gov/media/1105441/download . Be sure you and your student have hard copies of this form as well as scans saved to your computer and smartphone. 2. Health Care Proxy A medical health care proxy is someone appointed by a patient to make medical decisions on their behalf in the event the patient can’t make decisions for themselves. Each state has different laws governing medical health care proxies. You can find more information about health care proxies as well as the form to designate a health care proxy in Massachusetts at MassMed.org/Patient-Care/Health-Topics/ Health-Topics/ .

“From day one, this attorney and firm have been amazing to work with — whether it be response time or just overall being there for me. I would definitely recommend using them. I had nothing but a great experience from the secretary all the way up to the attorney himself. They worked hard for me, and the end result was more than expected!” –John July 26, 2019 3. Power of Attorney Appointing a power of attorney isn’t restricted to health care matters and is something every adult should do. When you appoint a durable power of attorney, you give a designated agent the authority to take care of business on your behalf if you are incapacitated. This could include signing tax returns, accessing bank accounts, or paying bills. Students who have turned 18 and plan on traveling abroad should appoint a parent or trusted family member as their power of attorney in the event they become incapacitated due to an injury or illness while out of the country. The forms for appointing a power of attorney vary state by state, and you should consult an attorney before signing. College is a time for young people to take those first steps into the freedom of adulthood. Having these signed documents lets students enjoy this freedom while allowing parents to be there for their children in an emergency.

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